Dubuque businessman set to announce U.S. House bid

Rod Blum lost a close primary race to Ben Lange in 2012

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DES MOINES – Dubuque businessman Rod Blum plans to join the race for the 2014 Republican nomination for the U.S. House from Iowa’s 1st District.

There’s been little publicity about Blum’s plans to make his announcement March 27. His campaign website, www.rodblum.com, simply has a message: “We’re coming very soon.”

He will join Steve Rathje, a Cedar Rapids businessman, in the race to capture an open House seat. Rep. Bruce Braley of Waterloo is running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Sen. Tom Harkin rather than run for a fifth term.

The race for the GOP nomination may not be set, however, as other names have been mentioned as potential candidates. There are suggestions that more candidates may announce after the Iowa Legislature adjourns, possibly in May.

On the Democratic side of the ballot, long-time Dubuque legislator, Rep. Pat Murphy, and Sen. Steve Sodders of State Center are the only announced candidates. Again, several other names are being floated as potential candidates in the Democratic-leaning district.

Blum ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination in 2012. He lost to Independence attorney Ben Lange 52 percent to 47 percent. Lange has made no comment on the open-seat race, but allies say he is weighing his options. He came within 2 percentage points of defeating Braley in 2010, but lost last year 57 percent to 42 percent.

Even before Braley announced plans to run for the Senate, Blum was making plans to run again. He’s been courting Tea Party voters, including in Linn County, and last month spoke at the Republican Party of Iowa’s “Celebrate Life” event that was headlined by former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee.

Blum, 58, has strong Eastern Iowa roots. He graduated from Dubuque Senior High School in 1973, earned a bachelor’s degree from Loras College (Finance) in 1977, and received a Masters in Business Administration from Dubuque University in 1989. In 1989, Blum was one of the initial employees of Dubuque-based Eagle Point Software. In just five years, Eagle Point Software went public on NASDAQ and had 325 employees. In 2000, Digital Canal was created as a result of a leveraged buyout of Eagle Point Software. Digital Canal is a leading provider of home building and structural engineering software. Blum was also named the Iowa Entrepreneur of the Year in 1994.

He and his wife, Karen, have five children.

In addition to Linn County, beginning in 2012, the 1st District will cover Worth, Mitchell, Howard, Winneshiek, Allamakee, Bremer, Fayette, Clayton, Black Hawk, Buchanan, Delaware, Dubuque, Marshall, Tama, Benton, Jones, Jackson, Poweshiek and Iowa counties.

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